Ah, Georgia – the most dreaded stretch of the ICW. It is a land of twists & turns, 8 foot tides, ripping currents and treacherous shallows that must be transited with care. Many try to go offshore from South Carolina to Florida and bypass Georgia altogether. We certainly entertained that idea but a good weather window never presented itself. In the end, we were actually kind of glad, as the stretch turned out to be one of the most beautiful of the trip! Despite it’s twists and turns, the GA ICW is actually only about 90 miles so we only anticipated 3-4 real “travel” days to get through it. Charts & guidebooks in hand, we carefully mapped out the route for each day, noting were the “trouble spots” were (Hells Gate, Little Mud River etc…) We planned our route so that we would be sure to hit each spot at or close to high tide.
All our planning paid off! Not only did we make it through without problems, but we even had some favorable tides which allowed us to clear hells gate on the evening high tide, rather than anchoring just before it and waiting for the 8am high the next morning. In fact, aside from the few known trouble spots we found the rest of the GA ICW not bad at all, and the scenery was absolutely beautiful. Most of the way we were traveling through nature reserves & marshlands – not a house in sight. We also saw some of the most beautiful sunsets of the trip.
The one unpleasant thing we did encounter were some nasty wind-against-current anchoring situations. Basically with the current running one way and the wind blowing the other, our anchor rode would stretch out in the direction of the current, but then the wind would blow us back over it, resulting in us swinging over our own rode (which made a horrible sound every time it caught the hull). I had horrible visions of the rode wrapping our keel and being stuck there in the middle of absolute nowhere… I guess we could have put a stern anchor out, but it wound up ok in the end.
Just after we crossed the Savannah river, while looking for a place to anchor for the evening I noticed a Hinckley Boatyard noted on ActiveCaptain. Knowing their excellent reputation, I figured it might be a good idea to pull in and see if a mechanic could help us troubleshoot our ongoing “smelly exhaust” issue. This also gave us a few days to explore Savannah (which we hand’t originally planned on stopping in) -it was only about a $10 Uber from the boatyard to the Savannah waterfront. We had a great time exploring the city & checking out some great restaurants!
By the time we left Savannah, we were starting to “get our sea legs back” so to speak, and were anxiously awaiting finally crossing into florida!